OTA directed by Stephanie Saunders, with Stefanie Cimicata, Sharlene Yuen, Bernie Henry and Jake Reardon. Presented by Theatre Ephemera at Artword Theatre (75 Portland). Runs to September 30, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, mat Sunday 2:30 pm. $16-$20, Sunday pwyc. 416-408-2783. Rating: NNNN
here's a major leap forward by a young theatre company. After last spring's unsuccessful Othello, Theatre Ephemera offers Ota, a piece that's evocative and nuanced.Adapted by director Stephanie Saunders from Ex Machina's The Seven Streams Of The River Ota, this 90-minute show segues between postwar Hiroshima and 1965 New York.
In the first period, an American soldier documenting the destruction caused by the atomic bomb meets a Japanese woman, and a Jewish war survivor comments on her new life. In the second, two young men both named Jeffrey share a delight in baseball and discover other connections.
Like the Robert Lepage-directed original, Ota is image theatre, and Saunders conjures up striking visuals. She sustains a tone, part realistic, part dreamlike, that links the two worlds.
Unafraid to linger and slow the action, letting details become etched in the mind, Saunders gets strong support from Drew Nelson's set design and suggestive lighting by Rene Brode.
The actors are more uneven; some try too hard. That's not true of Rae Ellen Bodie's war survivor, who radiates humanity even if her story seems a footnote in this cut-down tale. The key figures -- the soldier and the woman (Adam Kelly and Sherri McFarlane) and the two Jeffreys (Conor Green and Mike Realba) -- capture Ota's delicate, shimmering tones beautifully.JK